“Feel the fear, and do it anyway.”

That was the theme of a Toastmasters meeting I attended on Friday. It was a demo meeting at a company in Augusta that is planning to sponsor a new Toastmasters club for employees, and I was part of the team providing a demonstration of what a Toastmasters meeting is like.

“Feel the fear, and do it anyway” could easily be a motto for Toastmasters in general, since public speaking is one of the biggest fears many people have, and Toastmasters is the largest organization in the world dedicated to developing speaking and leadership skills. But fear is certainly not exclusive to Toastmasters, or to people who have to give speeches as part of their jobs or in any other area of their lives.

I think most of us need to hear or remind ourselves of this advice from time to time. After all, fear is a natural reaction to many situations, and can keep us from acting rashly or improperly when we’re faced with a dangerous situation. But it can also keep us trapped inside our comfort zone, unable or unwilling to venture out and explore uncharted waters or unfamiliar terrain. It can keep us from embarking on new adventures, and from the many surprising and exciting discoveries that are just beyond the horizon.

The best way to deal with our fear – whenever it occurs, and in whatever form it takes – is not to try to suppress it or ignore it, but to take a step back and analyze it. Is the danger something real, something physical? Or is the danger that we’ll fall, or fail, or embarrass ourselves in some way? If we’re truly in danger of some kind, we should certainly engage the “fight or flight” response and get out as fast as we can. But if our fear is actually because we’re at the start of a new endeavor or a steep learning curve, our best option is to feel the fear and do it anyway.

I hope that’s what everyone at the Toastmasters demo meeting on Friday decides to do. If so, I know – from personal experience and that of many others who’ve felt the same fear – that the journey they are beginning will take them not only out of their comfort zone, but far beyond their wildest dreams.

February 2, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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